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Full text of "Living with music"

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LIBRARY OF 

WELLES LEY COLLEGE 




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Living With Music 



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USIC 



By 



DAVID BARNETT 




GEORGE W. STEWART, PUBLISHER, INC 

New York, N. y. 



COPYRIGHT, 1944, BY DAVID BARNETT 



All rights reserved. This book or parts thereof, may 

not be reproduced in any form without 

permission of the publisher. 









\ 



MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY THE CORNWALL PRESS, CORNWALL, N.Y. 



To the countless 
musicians of the future 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2012 with funding from 
Wellesley College Library 



http://archive.org/details/livingwithmusicOObarn 



Chapter One 

At the risk of being called banal in my very first 
sentence, I shall say, nevertheless, that since Septem- 
ber, 1939, everything that has happened in the world 
has had a new and direct bearing on the individual 
lives of private citizens. News is not just news. Every 
development in this fantastic, bizarre world in which 
we now move belongs to each person, not simply to re- 
sponsible people at the head of the government. As the 
war drew nearer to us in a physical sense, we wanted to 
take up our roles in it. That problem was solved by 
many when they enlisted or were drafted in the service 
of their country. Others entered upon civilian defense 
activities and other volunteer war work. Business re- 
organized in order to fulfill government war contracts. 
I am a musician. I noticed that many musicians, the 
great and less than great, were eagerly contributing 
their services to the cause of morale and entertainment. 
I was happy that the USO and similar organizations 
were so besieged. They would not really need another 
pianist. From the forgotten recesses of my boyhood 
hobbies, I revived an interest in engineering drawing, 
studied it again and, after an elementary refresher 
course, took a rather more advanced course offered by 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, with 
the kindly interest and encouragement of Professor 

7 



8 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

Watts, I completed this course— not without difficul- 
ties, the week is just seven days long, my schedule more 
than full. However, it was completed, and I even par- 
ticipated in the organization of defense courses in the 
subject at Wellesley College, where I teach music. Dur- 
ing the past summer, I worked as a draftsman in a fac- 
tory doing war work. The picture on my identification 
button made me look very unlike anyone's conception 
of a musician. It may be that I will be called into the 
service. If so, even my curtailed musical activity will 
cease. 

But only for the moment. For, in spite of my desire 
to contribute to the real and ' 'practical" needs of the 
day at this time, in spite also of possibly forfeiting the 
respect of certain good citizens, newly-won because I 
can actually do something "useful," I must here state 
that I am a musician before anything else. I must say 
that I believe music is neither a polite accomplishment 
nor a mysterious gift vouchsafed only a few wild-haired 
creatures, but part of every moment of existence. 
Music is a philosophy of life, a point of view, a way of 
living. It can do more to regenerate a sick and weary 
world than many remedies now put forth by politi- 
cians, economists and other worthy folk. We teachers 
know that to inculcate knowledge truly, we must begin 
with the pupil and not the subject. We must begin 
with the boys and girls who become our men and 
women and make them learn, from the earliest mo- 
ment, what democracy, freedom, happiness are. We 
must bring back the young people who have lived in 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 9 

the hell of battle and carefully re-teach them what 
values there are in peace and inner quiet. We must not 
have the restless post-war spirit of the 1920s. It only 
breeds disaster. 

That is why I, as a musician and a teacher, must 
write this little book. To remind myself and others like 
me that however gratifying it is to fit in at the moment 
of material need, our job is bigger, broader, less tan- 
gibly satisfying than being a scientist or an engineer 
but, in its way, just as essential. To have a flourishing 
American culture, built upon the foundations of Eu- 
ropean and Asiatic cultures, we must be the medium 
through which our young people re-see the past and 
courageously face the future. 

I am going to tell you a little about myself. Not that 
I want to write my autobiography. I am not old enough 
or famous enough to justify such a step, nor have I met 
enough celebrities. But you will ask yourself, "Who is 
this David Barnett, who is so confident of his eligibility 
as a teacher?" And I ought tell you enough of my back- 
ground to prove my eligibility. I hope I shall convince 
you. 

According to my mother, she was aware, when I was 
three years old, that I had unusual musical ability. 
Since this unusual manifestation had not occurred be- 
fore in her solid middle-class background, she pon- 
dered the phenomenon and, unable to solve its prob- 
lems, took me, when I was five or six, to play for 
Josef Hofmann. To his great credit, that eminent 
gentleman, a former prodigy, advised against the ex- 



lO LIVING WITH MUSIC 

ploitation of my admitted talent. Impressed by his ad- 
vice, my mother permitted me a normal childhood, 
and my schooling and musical studies proceeded side 
by side. Many others, however, at one stage or an- 
other of my childhood, advised public concerts. But 
before too much pressure was brought to bear, I took 
the decision in my own hands and announced that I 
was going to college and would postpone my musical 
debut until after I had taken an academic degree. 

My ' 'normal" boyhood had permitted interest in 
sports and radio, in drawing and carpentry. At Colum- 
bia University, I was accompanist for the glee club and 
writer of songs for varsity shows, played on the tennis 
team and contributed to Morningside and Spectator. 
From the confused memories of four busy, often hectic 
years (I was studying music outside of college, too), I 
still cherish pleasant thoughts of Professor Edman, 
who encouraged my pianistic efforts, and Professors 
Mason and Moore, who have been unremitting in their 
interest and kindness all the years since my graduation. 
Toward the end of my college career, another student 
and I undertook to reform all that was wrong with the 
artistic world. Of that venture I can only say that 
young people must learn never to reform anything by 
telling what is wrong with it. If it were not the will 
of the majority for a situation to exist, it would not ex- 
ist. That is not to say I advise idealistic youth to con- 
done evil or corruption; the world does depend on its 
citizens for its betterment. But do not try to reform by 
loud lamentation. Only by teaching and watching and 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 11 

waiting and re-education can it be accomplished. 
Never single-handed. However, the Fortnightly had 
many sound musical ideas. It won us praise for our 
courage, and only among the meager and paltry was 
any spite or anger maintained against us. So we "got 
off" easier than our brash youth deserved, and it was a 
better way for two energetic young men to spend their 
allowances than on hip flasks or cheap women. 

My technical musical education, which was keeping 
pace with my other activities, was equally varied. I 
studied at the Mannes School with Howard Brockway. 
He taught me both piano and composition in his inimi- 
table manner. Then I studied piano with Berthe Bert, 
composition at Curtis with Scalero, composition at 
Juilliard with Rubin Goldmark, classes in Paris with 
Alfred Cortot (after World War I, almost all music 
students went to Paris) and some special lessons with 
him, work with Dukas and also (a "must" with every 
American of the '20s) a few classes conducted by Nadia 
Boulanger. From it all, I emerged with a vast sense of 
confusion. My education had been expensive and 
varied. I had learned much from my teachers and I had 
gained much from my associations with people and 
with ideas in college. But because of the peculiar na- 
ture of my gift, the career upon which I was to embark 
had an exotic and outre tinge. It was perfectly reason- 
able for my classmates to become lawyers and doctors 
or to sell bonds or insurance. But an A.B. degree is not 
the usual background of a virtuoso. Music has not 
slipped into the "solid" professions yet— or it had not 



12 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

then. And conversely, for those who considered school- 
ing to be foreign to the language of musical perform- 
ance, the grammar of the ' 'academic' ' was distasteful. 

Throughout the next eight years— the years which 
crystallized for me my conviction that art, if it is to 
persist and flourish, must have a place in education 
side by side with all the "practical" subjects— I must 
thank a benevolent Deity for His kind watching over 
my career. 

I made a debut in Paris and was buoyed up by the 
enthusiastic audience and the customarily superlative 
reviews, given with French wisdom and generosity to 
young performers— especially Americans— who had so 
much to learn. There was some question as to whether 
I was to be best known as a pianist or a composer; so 
with youthful enthusiasm I became both at once. And 
a teacher, too. Strangely enough, whatever my inner 
struggles in both performance and composition, my 
enthusiasm for teaching and my "feeling" for my stu- 
dents' problems gave me most frequently the convic- 
tion of the ever-increasing necessity of a definite place 
for music in a material world. To the faint horror of 
my long-suffering parents, I spent much time prepar- 
ing for my students, took on more than I should have 
(especially the musically interested ones who were un- 
able to pay well), and devoted hours preparing lectures 
for the series I was giving at the French School in New 
York. However, and again thanks to my good Guard- 
ian, I was able to appear as soloist with several "ma- 
jor" orchestras, such as L'Orchestre Symphonique de 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 13 

Paris, the Cincinnati and St. Louis Orchestras, and 
some ' 'minor' ' ones I shall not name for fear of hurting 
their feelings by placing them in such a category. My 
compositions were published by Senart in Paris and a 
good number of them performed by myself and others, 
notably the New York Philharmonic, which played a 
"Divertimento" of which I am rather fond, and the 
Perole and Arion chamber music groups. I also gave 
yearly recitals in Carnegie Hall and Town Hall and 
went on tours which took me south and west, where 
many ladies, in many different American accents, in- 
evitably requested the "Black Key" Etude. The critics 
of my performances out-of-town were invariably en- 
thusiastic, and in New York they gave me good enough 
reviews to encourage me and bad enough reviews to 
keep me from getting a swelled head. What young per- 
former can ask more? 

I think I was fortunate. The years of the Depression, 
which discouraged so many, dealt with me more than 
kindly. Here again I can say it was my students and 
their problems, both artistic and personal, which really 
gave me my greatest satisfactions. Then, a portrait by 
Memling, the Flemish painter, started me on an inter- 
esting side road of musical wandering. I noticed that 
the keyboard was arranged in the same way then that 
it is now. Since music and indeed the sound of the in- 
strument itself have changed so much since that time, 
I wondered if some device might not be invented to 
facilitate the technical considerations of pianistic per- 
formance. Thus one could be free to concentrate the 



14 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

study of the piano upon the intrinsically musical. 
Students would not be so bogged down by the necessity 
of digital and muscular perfection that they would be- 
come intent just on overcoming technical difficulties or 
would give up music altogether or be content with slip- 
shod playing. 

Thus was the Enharmonic Pianoforte Keyboard con- 
ceived—and again my bewildered but kindly muse 
helped me more than I deserved. For I took the draw- 
ing and the idea to Steinway & Sons and received from 
them the help which changed the little model to an ac- 
tual keyboard and the interested group of Mr. Greiner, 
Mr. Bilhuber and others to a series of demonstrations 
for many noted musicians. I gave the demonstrations at 
Steinway Hall and also one at the Juilliard School. I con- 
ducted an experimental study at Horace Mann School 
and met with instant and enthusiastic response from 
the children and parents. Miss Atkinson and Miss 
Flagg were good enough to arrange schedules so that I 
could teach children on the keyboard and prove not 
only that it was possible to transfer knowledge from 
one keyboard to another but that the new keyboard ac- 
tually facilitated the conquest of their technical diffi- 
culties. I gave six concerts at Columbia's McMillin 
Theatre on the Enharmonic Keyboard and a Town 
Hall recital. Since the tone of the piano is in no way 
altered, neither is the choice of music nor its edition. 
Of the keyboard I have only this to say. It is part of the 
larger plan to bring music into the ken of the ordinary, 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 15 

so-called "untalented" group of students. It is a device 
to promote greater musical understanding by over- 
coming more quickly certain technical difficulties. If 
the difficulties could be overcome just as easily on the 
existing keyboard, then there would be no problem. 
It is never an instrument or a keyboard or a device 
that is important in itself. It is the essence of music, the 
philosophic, intellectual, psychic and emotional kernel 
which is music, that is vital to preserve. 

In spite of modest successes, my interests were being 
drawn further and further away from the ordinary ac- 
tivities of my profession. The Horace Mann classes 
absorbed and delighted me. The pupils progressed so 
rapidly and happily and their parents were so patently 
astonished at their enthusiasm that my attention was 
turned to the primary and secondary school as an en- 
vironment of musical study. When an opportunity 
arose for me to teach in a Connecticut school and at 
Wellesley College and I knew that I could have stu- 
dents from an early grade until their graduation from 
college, I decided to concentrate permanently on that 
branch of my activities. It meant moving out of New 
York and out of the pleasant, rather hectic atmosphere 
of concerts and reviews and meetings of the "Bo- 
hemians" music club and musical evenings with deli- 
cious suppers served after them by the expert cooks of 
socially prominent ladies and gentlemen who like mu- 
sic. I was warned that I would quickly be forgotten. 
Well, perhaps. But my wife was willing and several 



l6 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

people who were interested in my musical progress 
understood, notably discerning Mrs. G. who has done 
more for the cause of music in New York than many 
others less inclined to anonymity. My parents had so 
enjoyed having a son who was "known" and had waited 
long and patiently for my career to flower. They were 
a bit wistful. If I had been failing, there would have 
been relief. But to go just when— ah well! children 
have strange notions. However, I believe my youngest 
sister is making up for my defections. Wild horses 
could not take her from her beloved musicians' haunts. 
And she is quite right to follow what she loves best as I 
am right to follow what I consider my work in life. 

In the ensuing sections of this book, I wish to speak 
of music education and its place in our post-war world. 
I will illustrate by my experiences and by examples of 
compositions of both children and adults. Then I will 
go back to my work or to whatever service the future 
may bring. 

Let me say just one more thing about myself. In the 
last seven or eight years I have done more pianoforte 
playing than ever before and have written more music, 
both for the immediate use of my students and in keep- 
ing with my own musical development. I have solved 
to my own pianistic satisfaction many technical and 
musical problems and thus have been able to give to 
my students the results of my own artistic maturing. I 
have been so fortunate as to have several more of my 
piano pieces published, a group of songs beautifully 
sung and chamber music beautifully performed. The 



LIVING WITH MUSIC l*J 

students who have graduated are beginning to come 
back and I am helping them to teach what they have 
learned. After the war, I hope this tendency will in- 
crease. But you have heard enough about me— now 
about music. 



Chapter Two 

Before I speak specifically of my work at Wellesley 
College and at the Thomas School, I would like to 
make a few observations about the place of music in 
the general curriculum of both private and public 
schools and about the attitude towards musical talent. 

Until rather recently, it was widely believed that 
music study was meant for those who were especially 
talented in that direction. For the remainder it was a 
rather haphazard affair. The vitality of the musical 
curriculum depended upon the individual qualities of 
the grade teachers and even they were timid about 
espousing the cause of a subject which they felt had 
little ''practical" value and which, besides, needed to 
be presented by "experts/' 

In this way, a strange and quite paradoxical situa- 
tion arose. The child who evinced interest in or talent 
for music was given, at the earliest possible age, instruc- 
tion in a specific skill relating to music. It usually took 
the form of piano, violin or voice lessons, less often 
'cello or viola lessons, least often lessons in woodwind 
or brass instruments. As the child progressed in his 
skill on the instrument, he was required to devote 
more time to it. Obviously, this activity took place out- 
side of school, and as the school curriculum itself be- 
came more complicated and the child's interests 

18 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 19 

widened socially, there was an inevitable conflict be- 
tween practicing and homework or play. Thus, most 
frequently at high school age, he either dropped his 
music altogether or chose to intensify a special study of 
it. In the former case, he payed no further attention to 
serious music and found an outlet in cheap popular 
songs and dances. Or he tried from time to time to "go 
back" to studying. If a wise teacher caught him on one 
of these excursions into the past, he was re-directed, 
and he found a mature and integrated place for his mu- 
sical yearning. If he were less fortunate in his instruc- 
tor, he querulously began to find fault with his own ca- 
pacity: he would complain that his fingers had become 
stiff, that he had lost his knack of fluent reading, that 
he "had no technique." So he went to the recitals of 
virtuosi who never make technical errors and lost the 
spirit of the composition in an admiration of the per- 
fectly played arpeggio. Or he entered upon fault-find- 
ing over pedalling or finicky details and, in general, 
developed an overcritical, half-envious and wholly un- 
satisfying obsession about music and musical perform- 
ance. 

If, on the contrary, the young student chose to in- 
tensify his study of music, he found himself somewhat 
isolated from his classmates. The pursuit of skill meant 
spreading out high school or college studies over an 
extra year or two or dropping formal education at the 
legal minimum or stopping school altogether in order 
to practice exclusively. He found, too, that as his skill 
increased, he had to compete in the complicated and 



2,0 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

often confusing environment of the professional musi- 
cian, and there, after many years of heartache and self- 
denial and physical effort and strain, he was told he 
had "technique but no interpretation/' another way 
of saying he did not possess musical talent. With mas- 
terful irony, the pursuit of skill which had prompted 
separation from his fellows at an earlier age later be- 
came the very reason for his undoing, at what should 
have been a culminating moment of reward. The obvi- 
ous disadvantages of either of these choices need not be 
discussed here. What should we do about musical tal- 
ent? What is musical talent? Who possesses it? How can 
one tell whether it is present? 

I do not wish to talk about the many psychological 
and musical tests and devices which endeavor to an- 
swer these questions. I have written a book in which 
the various theories are summarized, their histories 
given and their values estimated. But this little book is 
only a reminder of my musical role, with whatever few 
musical achievements I might have accomplished as 
illustration. 

So I am going to ask you to accept a rather startling 
statement which, moreover, I have proved to be true 
again and again: Every child has musical talent and 
under the proper conditions, every child can learn to 
sing, to read music, to compose and to play an instru- 
ment. This need not interfere with the remainder of 
his school work nor need preparation take more time 
than typical study of languages or mathematics. Also, 
it can be included in the curriculum of any primary 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 21 

and secondary school, not just conservatories devoted 
to so-called musical children. 

If you have raised incredulous eyebrows at the fore- 
going statement, would you agree that every child likes 
to sing, has a feeling for rhythm, is sensitive to changes 
of mood and has instinctive feeling for musical con- 
tinuity? If any of you have observed the behavior of 
very young children, you will admit that this is so. 
Well, I would say that musical talent is just that: the 
ability to achieve musical continuity. And all children 
manifest this to a greater or lesser degree. Thus, under 
proper conditions, this ability can be nurtured so that 
composition and sight reading and other heretofore 
"difficult" aspects of music education develop as natu- 
rally as English composition, language and science can. 

I went to the Thomas School with this idea firmly 
implanted in my teaching consciousness. The results 
achieved there, the last seven or eight years, have more 
than confirmed the validity of that belief. 

The children in this school are not chosen for any 
specific musical capacity, although they are selected 
with some care. They come from homes where music 
has a place. In some cases, a great deal of time is spent 
on music and at concerts; in other homes, different in- 
terests take a more prominent place. Some of the chil- 
dren study instruments outside of school; many do not. 
They pursue a full and exacting curriculum because 
most of the graduates go on to college, and the school 
is justly proud of the good record of the students in 
meeting the requirements of college entrance. I do not 



22 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

spend every day at the school— indeed, I live in Welles- 
ley and travel to the school but once a week. Yet the 
musical accomplishments of this group of children 
seem extraordinary to outsiders. They themselves have 
absorbed very happily and painlessly, throughout the 
long period from the early grades to college entrance, a 
conversance with singing, playing and composing 
which seems no more unusual to them than their abil- 
ity to translate a foreign language or pass a difficult ex- 
amination in physics or write an English composition 
of several thousand words. When they go to college, 
they find it easy and pleasant to enter into musical 
activities. Some, not all, major in music, but all feel 
that it has a place in their general education and cul- 
ture. When they come back to the school to visit, one 
can see their various attitudes settling. A good many 
have allotted a large share of their time to participat- 
ing in some way in music; others have branched out in 
different directions. But for each, music is a part of 
daily existence. Bach chorales can be sung on the re- 
turn ride from a picnic. A wedding or similar home 
festival can be the occasion for composing a song or a 
dance. Understanding and depth and honest critical 
discernment will be manifested when they listen to 
music. And please understand— these children were not 
overtaught nor were they even brilliantly taught. They 
only received, at their right moments, the guidance 
necessary to all learning. Most important, their own 
natural inclinations and curiosities were the materials 
of study, not a preconceived program stating how much 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 2$ 

abstract material must be imbibed from grade to grade. 
The subject of music was never taught. The child was 
taught and his own musicality developed and guided. 

I have been at some pains to emphasize the fact that 
a good number of these children would have ordinarily 
passed as "untalented." Similarly, when a decision to 
study an instrument was arrived at, it has been a natu- 
ral consequence and not the result of an outside event. 
These children feel that the study of music is given a 
real place in their daily school lives and that it has an 
equal importance with all other subjects. They put the 
extra time needed in developing their instrumental or 
vocal abilities into its proper category. It will not be 
time away from ordinary studies nor activity which 
alienates and sets them apart from other children (like 
the very pathetic infant prodigy). Rather is the activity 
of practicing an extension of their natural work and 
play, and they give extra time to it just as the child in- 
terested in literature will read a great deal or the child 
interested in botany will spend hours outside of school 
collecting and assembling specimens. Then, too, the 
fact that music is already a part of the daily routine 
makes coming to the instrument not an alien, remote 
activity but simply a different phase of a familiar sub- 
ject. Not the least among the benefits derived from 
these conditions is the assurance that the leaven of un- 
derstanding will be present at the moment of acquiring 
skill. 

When a young person plans to make music his pro- 
fession, I cannot urge too strongly to let him wait until 



24 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

his general education is completed and until he is ma- 
ture enough to bring to his performance, his composi- 
tion, or his teaching, understanding and skill which 
have developed side by side throughout the years of his 
childhood and adolescence. 

And now I wish to return to the children themselves. 
I could not truly estimate their capacities that lovely 
Connecticut October when I first met them. I was de- 
termined to bring out in each the latent feeling for 
musical continuity and I studied each child and his 
background before attempting to create the conditions 
which would be most favorable. To obtain a funda- 
mental and untroubled reaction to music, the person- 
ality itself must be stirred, and I knew that the high 
road to the personality was through the imagination. 

The folk-song offered the logical medium of ap- 
proach. For it bears the same relation to art-song or 
art-composition (and in the same ratio) as the highly 
complex nervous system of the child does to adult un- 
derstanding and consciousness. Therefore, the folk- 
song, although not really simple, has a certain basic 
acceptance of the complexities of music which simpli- 
fies them for the child. 

In keeping with the all-important place of imagina- 
tion, the song is presented as an idea. In this the folk- 
song itself ably assists since both the words and the 
music support the same definite objective: a story is 
told, a pleasure extolled, a moral preached. The re- 
turning soldier recounts his deeds and adventures or 
bewails his false love; the farmer boy hails the joys of 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 25 

the country and considers a crown a poor exchange; 
the lady leaves a Scottish castle for life with the gypsies. 
The songs follow the sailor through strange lands, at- 
tend his many loves, announce his exploits and weep 
over his end beneath the sea. Each nation, too, has its 
predominant character and its special historical occa- 
sions: it is maritime or agrarian (sea chanteys, planting 
and harvest songs); its heroes have resisted invasion or 
gloriously conquered (national and occasional songs). 
The particular nation will express a characteristic atti- 
tude which ranges from sentiment to irony (from the 
lullaby to the model but unfortunately mythical king). 
What child is not interested in stories of adventure and 
life in other lands? 

Once the imagination is stirred, the song is sung as 
a complete musical performance. That is, it is sung 
completely in character, with all the enrichment that 
an accompaniment can provide. Mistakes will occur 
and some phrases will leave the singers behind. But 
much less often than one might expect. For singing, in 
the subtle way which perhaps first prompted it, lends 
reality to past events. And each child will call on hid- 
den resources to give life to the past, something we can 
all do when it has meaning for the present. Then the 
song is left and one goes on to another activity. Only 
when it is re-sung, days later, does the process which 
overcomes mistakes and provides complete mastery be- 
gin. Here the same attitude is maintained. No attempt 
is made to eradicate errors by sheer repetition or by 
"taking the song phrase by phrase." For now the song 



26 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

becomes the product of an actual person and the dis- 
cussion centers on how he set about to write it. Step by 
step, the teacher's power of analysis leads the child 
along the fascinating path of music and poetry. He is 
intrigued to discover that the composer used simple, 
limited and recognizable musical materials. Before 
long, like any child on a country walk, he is far ahead 
of you, pointing out the use of the same motif here and 
there and employing with freedom and understanding 
the terms you have carelessly dropped. 

Indeed, the imagination is the most powerful instru- 
ment of learning, and once the child is set on a road 
where it can play freely, he will far outdistance you. I 
remember asking two children, as a device, to sing al- 
ternately the verses of Will ye gang to the hielands, 
Leezie Lindsay?, since singing in duet form would well 
illustrate the reality of the question and reply. Before 
I knew it, both were out of their chairs, not simply 
singing the words but enacting the whole scene with 
all the simpering gestures and mock recalcitrance of 
which the malice of childhood has such mastery. Yet 
the joke was not entirely on Leezie because, to the 
huge enjoyment of their classmates, the suitor was a 
head shorter than the prospective bride and the latter 
a typical tomboy liberally besprinkled with freckles. 

Step by step one proceeds from the known to the un- 
known, and the unknown is never quite that by the 
time one reaches it. As the formalities of acquaintance 
are overlooked in the heat of the game, so the rush of 
the imagination makes easy companions of forbidding 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 27 

terms. This is just as true in composing music as in 
singing, and it has the effect of removing the forbid- 
ding reputation composing has acquired as well as the 
halo of mystery with which, for some reason, it has 
been endowed. When the song has been seen as an idea 
and the composer as a human and rational being, the 
child experiences a natural desire to try his hand at 
writing music. Again the teacher prepares the way by 
stimulating the imagination. The Mazurka, for exam- 
ple, is presented first as a national dance of Poland and 
than as a musical composition. The dance begins with 
a general circular formation from which particular 
couples periodically advance for solo steps. These solo 
episodes are in the nature of pantomimes that have un- 
dying patriotism as their subject. Children are gener- 
ally familiar with folk-dancing and it is not difficult to 
explain new steps to them. They will see the point and 
design of a Mazurka as readily as those of a Jig or a 
Minuet. Given understanding of the dance, sheer curi- 
osity leads naturally to the discussion of the Polish peo- 
ple and their sad history. Today, Poland seems even 
less remote to the child than heretofore, and it is con- 
ceivable that in the closely-knit world of the future, 
children will speak as familiarly of foreign countries as 
they now do of neighboring states. 

Only after the form of the dance is clear and after a 
sympathetic interest in the country of its origin is se- 
cured does one proceed to the actual music. Examples 
are played and various types differentiated: the melan- 
choly, the pompous, the whimsical and the graceful. 



28 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



As many as a dozen are presented and during the per- 
formance, if the teacher will look around, he will see 



FI5. J. TWO MAZURKAS 



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each child making a silent and solemn preference or 
he will actually hear, "I'm going to write one like 
that." It is a curious fact, as the accompanying exam- 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



29 



pies show [Fig. i], that the children reproduce not the 
shell of the project but the spirit itself. As if with the 
sureness of memory, they select unusual scales and in- 



FKr.2. TWO COMPOSITIONS WITH THE TITLE -RAWT' 



fcai 



am 







(vain 



PolT-^o.- C*>U* 




tervals. I once detected a Swedish strain in a child's 
song and found Swedish ancestry several generations 
back. But this is a subject for students of anthropology 
or of traces in the racial consciousness. 



3<3 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

Children differ, too, in the types of attitudes they 
adopt during composition. Fig. 2 gives two examples 
submitted in response to the title, ''Rain," a time- 
honored subject of musical composition. One child 
has caught a melancholy connotation of rain, chiefly 
through emotional channels. The other has seen a 
rainy day pictorially and has represented a desolate 
pitter-patter rhythmically and through selection of the 
harmonies. It is this permission to differ which music 
grants and which is so freeing to the spirit. Its patterns 
are so flexible that they bend easily to the needs and 
interests of all types of minds. And these examples, typi- 
cal among hundreds, must make us pause in our esti- 
mates of musical talent. For we have too long assumed 
that musical talent is discovered by having everybody 
do the same thing and seeing who does it better. 

One final comparison before leaving the subject. 
When one looks closely at a folk-song, its structure 
becomes apparent. The materials are employed and re- 
employed, interlocked and combined, with an eco- 
nomical sureness of purpose. Fig. 5 illustrates this 
point diagrammatically. Well, the compositions of chil- 
dren have this same hold on musical continuity, and 
when one reflects that the composer of folk-song, by 
definition, is not a trained musician, the powers shown 
by the children find a certain analogy. Observe in Fig. 
4 the grasp on musical continuity which the diagram 
outlines. Year in and year out, time and time again, I 
have watched the analogy between the child- and the 
folk-composer draw closer and closer, by repeating the 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



31 



FI<5.3. 


ANALYSIS, IK DIAGRAM FORM , OF A SCOTTISH TWITE 




j-q 1 -a\ ! f^ 1 J | == 1 ^ 1 j | , : ^ | ■ 


* y ? ' *4 






FORM 



■\ r 



0/ 



"\ r 



USE OF MOTIF: 



p^ pi gp pi pi 



REVERSED COMBINED 
V 1- 



F-MSED IN PITCH EMBELLISHED 

Y 



-v r 



XY 



-v r 



XY 



X" 



"V /- 



XY 



USE OF GRACE NOTES: 



OSE OF THEMATIC UKB: 



AUGMENTATION 



FNTATION INVERSION 



alteration of Position in measurF 



|n 



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TRANSPOSITION OF KFY PLUS AUGMENTATION 
PHRASE" b' = !sr HALF OF a + 2nd HALF OF b 

[THIRD LINE (PHRASES a' AND b') ASSOCIATED WITH HIGH PITCH 
FOURTH LINE (PHRASESa" AND .c) ASSOCIATED WITH HIGH THEN LOW PITCH 

following particular experiment. I have selected two 
closely matched groups. To Group A I have explained 
a project according to the procedure described above. 
With Group B I have done the same but, in addition, 



32 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



pointed out the nature of sequences, motifs, inversion 
of motif, suspensive phrases, in short, those factors 
which comprise the means whereby musical continuity 



flG. 4. AWAIY5IS, IN DIAGRAM FORM, OF A CHILD'S MINUET 



m 



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li ll/V>*r 



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FORM : 



USE OF MOTIF: 



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PIMINUTION PLUS TRANSPOSITION. SffiUENCf DIMINUTION PLUS SfgOEHCE 

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Diminution INTO ONE MEASURE 



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eNLACE-t> PATTERNS OF SAME MOTIF 



PHRASE b ENDS 



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PHRASE b* ENDS ^ {' f 



: alteration of 



PITCH TO HIGHER. RANGF PERMITS RETURN TO RANGE OF FIRST PHRASE", ALTERATION 
OF RHYTHMIC PATTERN PERMITS BALANCED ENDIHG. 

is achieved. In every case, Group A achieved musical 
continuity successfully and used, without previous ex- 
planation, the devices which were explained to Group 
B. In the course of time, naturally, all the children be- 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 33 

come conversant with these and many other devices of 
musical structure. But the point of the experiment is 
never lost: there is latent musical ability in every child 
which must be reached and tapped before it is trained 
and developed. 

When the parents saw their children busily writing 
Mazurkas or Minuets, when they saw them develop 
further and write compositions expressing a mood or 
illustrating a poem, when they heard them sing with 
ease and enjoyment Bach chorales and other so-called 
difficult songs, when they heard them casually discuss- 
ing the mysterious symbols of music and employing 
them with understanding, when they saw all this, they 
wondered, "Are my children musical wonders?" "No," 
we replied— to be sure, somewhat untactfully but 
truthfully—, "every child has ability to write music." 
A bit timidly, they asked, "Would I?" "Yes, if the 
proper conditions are present." "What are the proper 
conditions?" "We shall see." 

And they did. The children write scores of composi- 
tions each year, they sing with church choirs and over 
the radio, they perform a Bach cantata each year and 
many study different instruments with increased inter- 
est; this in addition to their regular school work, 
sports, recreation and other free activity. The parents 
and other members of the community write and per- 
form their own compositions, they sing a major choral 
work each year, sometimes alone, sometimes with the 
children, the instrumentalists among them come for 
evenings of chamber music during which music is 



34 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



FIO-. S. TYPICAL EXCERTTS FROM THE COMPOSITION OF CHILDREN 
AND ADULTS 




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CLASS HL-. - SONG 



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CLASS IT. - FIOAUDON 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 35 

played, analyzed and discussed; this in addition to 
their busy lives as parents and in their work or profes- 
sions. (See the typical excerpts in Figs. 5, 6, 7 and 8, 
on pages, 34, 36, 37, 38.) 

From time to time, there have attended the Sunday 
night classes at the School: teachers, Miss Thomas her- 
self, who has written some admirable compositions, a 
lawyer, a doctor, a minister, an engineer, a publisher, 
a novelist, mothers who had renewed their interest in 
music, fathers who had found again their college inter- 
est in singing and members of local and neighboring 
church choirs. 

Ordinarily, were any other field the subject of study 
by such a group, rich in experience, background and 
training, anyone would readily understand that discus- 
sion would be lively, varied and profitable. Where mu- 
sic is concerned, however, there is a disposition to 
believe that these qualities are of no avail and that the 
adult must regress to some childhood stage for which 
there is now neither time nor patience. A little reflec- 
tion shows how false this is. These people, as we all do, 
led their lives to the accompanying sound of music 
and, like many others, also had an opportunity of 
longer or shorter duration during childhood to lay the 
foundations for life-long activity in music. But they 
came up against the same obstacles which still block the 
musical development of many children. They struggled 
with the questions of time for school studies and 
time for music study outside, of whether they were 



36 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



110. 6. 




CIASS H. - MUSICAL CHARACTERIZATION OF A CLASSMATE 



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CLASS X. - IMPRESSION 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



37 



FIG. 7 



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CLASS m.- DUET WITH PIANO ACCOMPANIMENT 



'^ViJ^! 






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COURSE 102 - GIVEN BY ME AT WELLESLEY COLLEGE 




ADULT COMPOSITION CLASS - SONG BY ONE OF THE PARENTS 



3§ 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 




CLASS IE.- THEME FROM A DANCE 




CLASS 3X.- PIECE FOR WOLIN AND PIANO 



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CLASS X.- PROGRAM PIECE FOR VIOLIN AND VIOLA 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 39 

"talented enough for serious study." Or perhaps they 
encountered the typical rejection as "untalented." Con- 
sequently, in the adult resumption of music study, 
there is no need for a hasty mastery of so-called essen- 
tials. There is need rather to overcome the effect of 
early experiences and this is accomplished in the course 
of time and by simple encouragement. 

As with the child, the concern is first with the per- 
sonality and the imagination and only secondarily 
with the materials of music. If the adult imagination 
plays less freely than the child's, it more than makes 
up for this in intensity and direction. Besides, it has 
withstood the test of application to reality in another 
field—the work or profession— and gained a certain 
hardihood and power of selection. That is why adults 
can quickly begin to work with combinations of in- 
struments and larger forms. Fig. 9 shows a passage 
from a composition by Miss Thomas for a small or- 
chestra. It has captured a spirit which only a sensitive 
observer of nature's changing moods could have de- 
tected. Sometimes, the imaginative idea can best be 
expressed by complexities of structure. Fig. 10 presents 
two passages from a string quartet by Mr. Adkins. Note 
how an augmentation of the first passage is developed 
in the second. Each individual brings to musical com- 
position his entire attitude of mind and sometimes the 
very materials of his own environment. In Fig. 17 an 
excerpt from Dr. Simon's suite, The Country Doctor, 
is shown. A dialogue is in progress over the telephone 



40 LIVING WITH MUSIC 



Sea Turn 



The fog creeps up with stealthy, salt, wet breath 
To blind the busy traffic of the sea. 
The ships blast out their hoarse and plaintive cries 
And grope with tautened senses, timidly. 

The foghorn, roused, intones its rhythmic chant 
Of knowing where it is with surety, 
To answer those who ask Who comes? And Where?- 
The terrified lost children of the sea. 

The fog as softly melts before the sun. 
The bleating boats make still their frantic cries. 
The rhythmic pulse of work its beat renews. 
The songs of those who toil at sea arise. 

M. T., 1942. 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



41 



Tt&. 9 . A PAGE FROM "SEA TURN," A COMPOSITION FOR SMALL 
ORCHESTRA, BV MABEL THOMAS 

A-n dosuXv ft oy>(p-o ppo 




4* 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



between an excited mother and the calm doctor. Ob- 
serve the roles of the instruments which have been 
selected. I am happy to report that the ensuing story- 
in-music shows his calm to have been justified. 



FIG. 10.- TWO PASSAGES FROM A STRING gUARTET.BY 
LEOtfARP ADKIATS 
Q+*U.4L 




In singing, too, the adult personality can find expres- 
sion without lengthy preliminaries. Here, the stature 
of the choral composition which is selected for per- 
formance offers the suitable scope that combinations 
of instruments and larger forms provide in writing 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 



43 



FI&.ll.- A PASSAGE WOM THE SUITE 'THE COUNTRY DOCTOR? 
BY DR. IEO SIMOJ/ 
8 



.•Rufcafe" 






Qttoto 










music. As many as twenty or thirty compositions are 
sung at a singing group meeting. There is no intense 
"rehearsing" of a single phrase or practice of individual 
parts while the others wait. The songs are selected for 



44 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

their bearing on one another, and the accompanying 
discussion is designed to bring this out externally while 
the same end is subtly achieved by the actual singing. 
Each rendition is an effort toward the total idea of the 
song, and while it may lag at first, the return in succeed- 
ing sessions is marked by continual progress. Terms 
are constantly introduced during discussion and before 
long become the accepted and familiar materials of 
music. It is not unusual for such singing to awaken a 
desire to compose and actually to lead to it. 

The obvious result of all these gatherings was un- 
derstanding and good will and general deepening of 
musical appreciation. Much of the unwholesome mys- 
tery of music and musical performance and composi- 
tion has vanished. They have become less esoteric, less 
removed from normal spheres. Music has thus become 
more intimately part of their lives and something to 
be treasured even in times of war when emphasis is 
placed upon material existence by everyone. Our ac- 
tivities continued last year— often with difficulty— but 
continue they did. And both the singers and the com- 
posers told me that whatever time could be given to 
music proved helpful with tasks and anxieties. 

I think that the community which has organized mu- 
sical activity is not unique. Symphonic orchestras in 
many cities had such earnest beginnings, and participa- 
tion by the people themselves is usual in numerous 
places, as Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, testifies. But this 
activity in Connecticut of which I have spoken sprang 
from purely educational projects: the children were 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 45 

being taught. Everything had an educational basis. It 
was not an outlet. It was part of the learning process 
and it will continue and spread, with the school and 
its delightfully interested parents and friends as 
nucleus. 



Chapter Three 

My work at Wellesley College is very different from 
that in Connecticut. Each member of the music depart- 
ment has his own special place and work, and mine is 
the teaching of the piano in the branch of so-called 
"practical' ' music. The study of an instrument is vol- 
untary and receives no academic credit. The possible 
disadvantages or even advantages of such a status are 
matters for executive policy and I do not feel it pro- 
fessionally ethical to comment upon them. However, 
since there is no compulsion and no academic credit 
and since war activities have required the students' 
extra time more and more, the fact that many of my 
students study the piano throughout their college 
course testifies again to the great urge of the individual 
towards expression in a musical medium. 

For the student of the piano at college is very rarely 
planning to become a professional musician. As I have 
remarked, the factor of skill has tended to set the stu- 
dent apart during secondary school, so that by the time 
he reaches college age, he frequently leaves school 
entirely to devote himself to music study. This he does 
under private auspices or at a music school where most 
of the courses are in various branches of music, with a 
few periods devoted to literature or languages. It is 
rather amusing to note that the average music school 

46 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 47 

gives academic subjects the cavalier treatment that mu- 
sic often receives in ordinary schools. 

The reasons why a college student studies the piano 
are many. She may have studied for many years and, 
without professional objectives, wish to make music a 
permanent part of her existence. That, I think, is the 
rarest type of student since it already betokens a ma- 
tured evaluation, free of the conflicting issues which 
becloud the subject. Another student has felt the effect 
of these conflicting factors, which we have seen to be 
at their crucial stage in secondary school, and has not 
studied since. She is eager to return to the instrument 
but is confused and self-depreciatory. If at this moment 
the proper conditions are provided, a satisfying and 
lasting return can be effected. To the teacher who has 
watched the mechanics of the process whereby students 
become excluded from music, such rescues are espe- 
cially gratifying. And it comes as no surprise to him 
that they frequently follow upon restoring to its proper 
focus a distorted view of the factor of skill in perform- 
ance. Then there is the student interested in compo- 
sition or music in general, who perhaps wishes to 
"major' ' in it and wants the piano as another branch 
of that interest or as a means of examining the music 
which forms the bibliography of the courses. Still an- 
other wishes to teach young children and anticipates 
the role of the piano in school life. There are those, 
too, who are already familiar with another instrument 
and who realize what an important part the collaborat- 
ing piano has in its literature. Others choose the piano 



48 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

for a variety of reasons which are too individual to 
require mention here. 

With the knowledge of the particular objective and 
personal need which prompts each student to choose 
to study the piano, one can easily find which approach 
in instruction is best for each. Here again, the instru- 
ment and the notation for the instrument are never 
considered in themselves. The student and her indi- 
vidual musical needs come first. Whether a student 
comes to me with a concert repertoire or has never 
progressed beyond Book III of— well, never mind, this 
is of little moment save as affecting the type of study. 
The important thing is to have a good reason for study- 
ing the piano and a willingness to view study and 
practicing from an enriched musical point of vantage 
rather than in terms of the ten fingers. And when I 
say a "good reason," I do not mean only a practical one 
but an emotional or aesthetic or intellectual one as 
well. I think that almost everyone of my students at 
Wellesley approached the piano with a felt, inner need 
and they have more than justified my pride and hope 
in them. Many who write to me about their pianistic 
activities after graduation show they have absorbed 
more of the broader, more general attitude towards 
instrumental study than I thought they had while I 
agonized over them in the back of Billings Hall during 
their last student recitals. This is especially true when 
they teach young children the piano. Certain intangi- 
ble difficulties and obscurities become crystallized when 
they must explain the elements of keyboard technique 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 49 

to little Susie or wriggly Johnny. Their requests for 
help and the severity of their outlook give me a great 
deal of pleasure, for I know that, in teaching the piano, 
they will teach music not skill, and their work will 
further thin the ranks of those we have called the 
excluded. 

I doubt if there is one method of teaching which can 
be trapped, caught and bound into text-book instruc- 
tions. Rather is there a delicate and indefinable rapport 
during the learning process which is possible even to 
thrice-familiar materials when an attitude has given 
them particular meaning. When one feels, even after 
the student is out in the world, so to speak, that she 
has re-established this rapport with her pupils, one 
cannot but be reminded of another renewal of the 
learning process through the medium of the materials 
of music: the child composer's recreation of the past 
in terms of present significance. The same feeling can 
be savored, too, during the performance of a great 
work one has lived with and worked over for many 
years, when there comes a moment of blindingly clear 
comprehension of the composer's musical motivation 
and the projection of these emotions rouses the fingers. 
A slight turn or rustle in the audience reveals that the 
feeling has been caught and a magical rapport exists 
between composer and audience with the performer as 
a medium. This is always a moment of great joy to me 
when I experience it, and I am inclined to believe that 
the most valuable performance we can give is, in its 
final essence, a teaching. 



50 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

Fortunately, the notion that time— the sheer amount 
of practicing— is the most important factor in instru- 
mental study is becoming outmoded. This is but a 
sensible reaction to the familiar cry, "technique with- 
out expression/ ' and correspondingly a growing con- 
viction that a finger moved without comprehension 
means a movement lost to expression. Nor should it 
be believed that someone who has thoughtlessly 
acquired muscular proficiency needs only minimum 
guidance to turn it toward the purposes of interpreta- 
tion. These considerations make welcome news to the 
college student who must naturally utilize time to the 
best advantage. And at the same time they explain why 
analysis and treatment of music for the piano as a lit- 
erature occupy such a predominant place in the in- 
struction. Since I have written in some detail, in my 
aforementioned book, my ideas on pianoforte per- 
formance, I shall merely mention casually the method 
by which I endeavor to carry out these aims. 

For analysis and understanding, I give to the in- 
dividual student the type of piano music which best 
suits her needs and development. There is very little 
"must" in the average repertoire in its original state. 
However, by emphasizing certain aspects of great music 
and pointing out not altogether obvious faults of lesser 
compositions, the taste is led quietly into the "must" 
paths. So that a student who has "adored" concert 
paraphrases and potpourris or more recent productions 
by less well-trained composers and has happy associa- 
tions with performing them is not told brusquely 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 51 

they are inferior but confronted with Beethoven and 
Chopin and Bach at the right moment. Of itself, the 
inadequacy of the "concert-piece" is revealed. It is 
important not to destroy good associations connected 
with any music and not to be didactic concerning what 
is good and not good. The musical taste of the student 
will improve with his cultural development. After all, 
those of us who now enjoy the subtleties of Proust 
would not wish to negate the enjoyment that scout and 
adventure stories once brought to us. 

Since piano performance, in one of its main aspects, 
is a solo enterprise and since many of its attendant 
problems require individual attention, it is fitting that 
individual instruction be the traditional and custom- 
ary mode of learning. Yet instruction which is exclu- 
sively individual is apt to have one great disadvantage: 
the student becomes absorbed in her own particular 
difficulties and loses sight both of the total aim of her 
studies and of music as a subject of study. To remove 
this disadvantage and to further more detailed analysis 
of the particular qualities and styles of piano music, a 
group gathers once a week. This is an entirely volun- 
tary activity. Any one feeling the pressure of other 
work may at any time be absent from a meeting of this 
group. Nevertheless, the students seem to enjoy it and 
attendance has been good. They present for one an- 
other groups of compositions which, although by dif- 
ferent composers, are unified by similar aims, forms or 
styles, and they actively participate in discussion. It is 



52 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

here that many begin to look up from the keyboard 
into the broader scope of music. 

The other goal which I set myself in the teaching 
of the piano to college students is at once easier and 
more difficult to achieve. Easier, because the student 
expects and wants instruction in the technique of per- 
formance; difficult, because the student most often has 
not made the connection between the understanding 
her cultural development permits her and the actual 
mechanics of playing. This difficulty is partially trace- 
able to the interruptions, doubts and setbacks of prim- 
ary- and secondary-school days. Every setback meant 
more or less starting over again and with the added 
burden of feeling the time between resumptions irre- 
trievably lost. Under the spell of this feeling, an effort 
was made quickly to regain lost skill and make up for 
lost time. Attention centered on muscular matters and 
since skill cannot be suitably acquired save by imper- 
ceptible degrees, the incentive which prompted re- 
sumption soon flagged. Likewise, since concentration 
on skill independent of its roots in expression is a dull 
business, all remaining interest died and the stage was 
set once again for another interruption of study. Dur- 
ing this difficult period, the student was continually 
beset by false incentives and false discouragements. 
Unprotected by early training, she lapsed into the 
common error of regarding the concert as the atmos- 
phere toward which all musical activity strives and 
succumbed to the awe or technical accomplishment 
which is much too frequently fostered there. 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 53 

Perhaps because of this very awe the student had not 
tried to apply, in a practical manner, the knowledge 
and understanding which she is constantly acquiring 
in artistic and other intellectual occupation. Once the 
direct connection between this cultural background 
and the method of study becomes clear, the student 
perceives the difference between a reading of notes 
which may have been characteristic in childhood and 
a mature concern with the structure of an artistic mas- 
terpiece. The belief that a dull and tasteless enterprise 
must precede the real concern with the music disap- 
pears. The student begins to find in the complexity of 
a musical passage the direct result of the epoch in 
which it was written and to employ a key to the epoch 
as a key to its music as well. Historical events, literary 
influences, social values, aesthetic theories, these be- 
come the answer to structural complexity. The musical 
structure, in the mind of the student, takes on a com- 
pound character which resolves down into components 
definable in terms of the familiar aspects of her general 
culture. She quickly rids herself of the idea that to 
negotiate it would require the fingers of a Houdini or 
a Horowitz. She discards vacuous practicing and as- 
sembles the elements of structure, the pure and clear 
materials of music enriched by the associations of a 
particular epoch. I have seen a "technique" develop in 
a year or two which seemed remarkable from the out- 
side. It encouraged the student and marked a progress 
toward greater pleasure and understanding in playing. 
Yet it was never an end in itself and was but a logical 



54 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

outcome. The finger which is moved with a sense of 
the Tightness of design is sure and unfailing. 

I think my piano students enjoy their work. I know 
I enjoy them. 



Chapter Four 

If you have been patient enough to follow me thus 
far, you will doubtless be thinking: But why? Why 
must he write to tell us all about himself, where he 
teaches and whom he teaches? Surely this country is 
music-conscious enough with its many fine orchestras 
and its large number of concerts. There are hundreds 
of good schools which devote time to music, and almost 
all colleges have choral groups and glee clubs, instru- 
mental training and orchestras. 

You are perfectly right. We have become increasingly 
conscious of music. There are many fine orchestras and 
splendid opportunities to hear good music of all kinds. 
But this book is a reminder, a reminder to myself and 
every other person who works with the materials of 
music that we have hardly begun the development of 
music because, to a far greater extent, we must increase 
in stature and quality the place of music in our daily 
life. 

For many, it is still a thing apart. It still has no real 
place in the lives of a great many people. It is consid- 
ered exotic, a rare thing, the exception. This seems 
hardly possible when one reflects that everyday life 
proceeds to the constant accompaniment of music. 
From the lullaby and song of childhood to the lament 
for the dead, music solemnizes or lightens every occa- 

55 



56 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

sion. The anthem, the prayer, the prologue, the inter- 
lude, the march, the dance, these are but a few of the 
offices performed by music. Yet there is apparently a 
great difference between the unconscious acceptance of 
a harmonious interlude and an active, vital fulfillment 
of a need of the personality. For when music is ap- 
proached directly and emerges from behind the palms 
where it has filled the spaces in conversation, its truly 
awkward position in life becomes obvious. Then, as 
in the presence of an unpleasant visitor, we see the 
doubts and the stiffening, the antagonism and the con- 
flicts. Some will advance with outstretched hand, but 
these are frequently the people of good breeding, 
trained in overcoming natural reluctance. 

There has always been a time when every phase of 
human activity occupied a similar position. Not so long 
ago, it was not thought necessary that everyone should 
read and write and be able to do sums. These were the 
services of isolated individuals who performed them 
for peasant and aristocrat alike. And significantly, they 
were approached with a mixture of reverence and 
command. They possessed the key to certain mysteries 
but perhaps the very mysteriousness of their calling 
kept them segregated and apart. Not very long ago, 
too, medicine was the province of the leech, and before 
him, the witch. The respected profession of the doctor 
today bears little resemblance to these conditions of 
the past. But what is more important, the tenets of the 
profession have spread out and penetrated into all man- 
ner of nooks and crannies of everyday existence in the 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 57 

form of preventive medicine, hygiene, first aid and gen- 
eral counsel on habits of eating. 

I shall not belabor the point with the transition from 
alchemy to science, from the rod to the vote, from ex- 
ecution to psychiatry. It is more useful to note that 
each of these transitions was invariably accompanied 
by a mass acceptance of its implications. At first the 
activity remained dark and secret, known only to initi- 
ates, to be approached with mingled awe and mistrust. 
At the end of the transition, it is the familiar of 
everybody, and he who refuses to reap its benefits is 
looked upon with the same ridicule which greeted its 
first proponents. Well, the position of music with re- 
spect to the mass of people is still largely in the transi- 
tion state. I say this despite the symphony orchestra 
and the radio and the great creations of Beethoven, 
Haydn, Schumann, Mozart, Chopin and Schubert 
which they play. For these very men are cases in point. 
All his life, Beethoven balked at and strove against 
abuses in the position of music. Haydn bewailed them. 
Mozart and Schubert wastefully poured out music into 
an environment which had no place for it. Schumann 
struggled to bolster the doubtful status "of music with 
the activity of literature, and Chopin took refuge from 
the chic notoriety of the salon in melancholia and 
illness. 

What is the attitude of mind which exists in the mass 
of people during the period of transition? And what 
steps must be taken before events signify that it has 
reached its end? First is the deep-rooted suspicion 



58 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

which mistakenly allies the activity with the forbidden. 
Everyday life is and should be capable of providing 
satisfactions, but when an outlet is sought from the 
restrictions and tasks which inevitably surround it, the 
choice falls on activities which have not as yet achieved 
acceptance in the group consciousness. In the majority 
of instances, these activities hardly support the choice, 
for they are inherently as prosaic as the daily life left 
behind. But a notion of glamour attaches to them. The 
alchemist was undoubtedly a glamorous and Faustian 
figure but the followers who found his forbidden rites 
inviting and tasted of his noxious mixtures would have 
been completely cured by a good stiff course in modern 
physics or chemistry. 

There is nothing glamorous about music. Its scales 
and chords are as everyday as breakfast cereal. It is sim- 
ply an ingenious utilization of the compound nature 
of tones to lend them relation and so permit design. 
Life itself has mysteries and profundities, and some of 
these can be probed and solved by the peculiarly hu- 
man knack of considering them in terms of design. But 
as long as musical materials are considered mysterious, 
an elaborate ritual can surround them and give rise to 
a cult of initiates and followers, with all its fuss and 
fuddy-duddy. There can be much bowing and scraping 
before the great, much swooning with mystic ecstasy, 
learned bandying of high-sounding and awe-striking 
terms, pontifical sounding on comparative perform- 
ances, ohs and ahs and have-you-heards. A field of hu- 
man endeavor, in direct proportion to the growth of its 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 59 

reputation for glamour, can be the recipient of every 
stupidity, eccentricity and even more serious undesir- 
ability which other fields, safely through the transition 
stage, have long since discarded or no longer permit. 
Each new arrival in the field, who elsewhere would be 
received with calm into a common aim, is preceded by 
a fanfare and hailed as a messiah. 

Secondly, during the period of transition, the mass 
of people accept with docility the legendary implica- 
tions of talent. This, of course, adds new fuel to the 
fires of the idea of mystery. For what is more necessary 
to the maintenance of a cult than an apparently heaven- 
sent gift? To many people who turn from the cult with 
aversion, the musical prodigy comes as a convincing 
confirmation of what it maintains, however undesir- 
ably it may do so. It would be foolish to deny the ex- 
istence of the musical prodigy just as it would be to 
ignore the prodigy in mathematics, languages and liter- 
ature or even in sport. But it would be equally foolish 
to conclude from the phenomenon that all other chil- 
dren should cease studying the subject. The prodigy 
is not a confirmation of the mysterious nature of the 
subject. Is it not more sensible to regard him rather 
as convincing proof that the substratum of mind from 
which he quickly drew materials exists for all children, 
if not in equal intensity, at least in a less accessible 
manner? The subsequent history of many prodigies 
tends to answer this question in the affirmative. They 
frequently do not fulfill their early promise, a situation 
which is both sad and wasteful. Quite probably, the 



60 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

musical stratum which first prompted the early mani- 
festations in these cases was not properly tapped and 
developed. Superimposed upon it, instead, was a cul- 
tivation of attendant skills and dexterities which, 
coupled with natural intelligence and the strength of 
the original incentive, produced astonishing but not 
lasting results. 

This nation has vast natural resources not simply in 
its lands and mountains but in its people as well and 
truly unexampled opportunities for their growth and 
development. What we are witnessing today, in the in- 
creasingly frequent appearance of prodigies of all types, 
is the natural result of an interaction between these 
resources and these opportunities for their develop- 
ment. But with characteristic wastefulness and lack of 
husbandry, we are spilling the resources over the cup. 
We have not yet learned the conservation of human 
resources as we have begun to learn the conservation 
of natural resources. 

When we do, we shall go back to the child in the 
school. There we shall teach the brotherhood of man 
in the universality of knowledge. Instead of separating 
individuals for intense and special development of 
skills, we will emphasize the essential unity of all sub- 
jects and the essential ability of all to understand them 
and participate in them. In this democracy of the spirit, 
music which, with the other arts, is at the very core of 
knowledge is peculiarly fitted to play an important 
part. As a full-fledged subject of study, it must take its 
place side by side with mathematics and language, sci- 



LIVING WITH MUSIC 6l 

ence and literature. And as such must it exist through- 
out primary, secondary school and college, so that we 
may send to the four corners of the country people who 
will carry the news that music has passed the transition 
stage and come of age. 

We are now going through a period of great eco- 
nomic, political and physical stress. In the vastness of 
what confronts us in a post-war world, there is the 
danger that music will lose whatever it has gained to- 
ward maturity. Amid the pressures of problems of 
reconstruction, it may take on even more the character 
of an outlet for emotions and idiosyncracies which bear 
no relation to its essential nature. We stand, too, on 
the threshold of an even greater period of scientific 
discovery and exploration than the one preceding the 
war. What is to be the role of art during such a period? 
Our mechanical ingenuity has gained us inestimable 
benefits but they should not blind us to one important 
limitation upon it. Science or industry can bring privi- 
ledge and comfort within the reach of all but it cannot 
confer knowledge of how to use them. This is the prov- 
ince of art. For art enriches the personality with a 
consciousness of its own resources. The person thus 
enriched can look upon his neighbor's possessions and 
abilities with equanimity. 

Let us remember this. Music must be recognized as 
part of our daily life, as the rightful heritage of every 
child. It is not a release from or a substitute for exist- 
ence; it is part of existence. In the healing and regen- 
eration of our sick and sore, let us remember the 



62 LIVING WITH MUSIC 

spiritual as well as the physical. Let us develop the 
potentialities of our children with impartial patience, 
and let all who teach music be aware always that al- 
though the progress of music means change and differ- 
ence, we must not make the mistakes of the past but 
we must take the best it has to offer and build upon it 
for the future of a great American art. 



DEPARTMENT CF EDUCATION 

WELLESU£Y COLLEGE 
- * 

WELLESLSY, MASSACHUSETTS 



APR 2 1 'SB 



WELLESLEY COLLEGE LIBRARY 




5002 03111 0294 



David Barnett is in charge of piano 
instruction at Wellesley College. He is 
a composer whose orchestral works have 
been performed by the Philharmonic and 
Manhattan Symphonies. He has taught 
piano, harmony, composition, apprecia- 
tion, orchestration, at the Alfred Cortot 
School in Paris and at the French and 
Thomas Schools, and conducted a study 
of keyboard technique at Horace Mann. 
He made his debut as a pianist in Paris 
in 1 928, later appearing in Paris, New 
York, St. Louis and Cincinnati with sym- 
phony orchestras and giving solo con- 
certs in Carnegie Hall and on tours 
through New England, the South and 
Middle West. 



GEORGE W. STEWART • PUBLISHER 

67 West 44th Street N>w Y/-^ I ft NY. 



Music MT 1 . B3 
Barnett, David, 1907- 
Living with music